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Questions Answered by Richard Sternberg

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia on

Q: Need help/guidance in estate claim/probate claim in VA.

Assistance with an estate situation that has in VA. Best of friends and also involved in formal business since 2007.

Brother is listed as executor of a will that was filed. The will is very vague drafted in 2009. It mentions nothing regarding our business relationships over the years.... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 23, 2019

It is difficult to pursue a claim as small as $13,000 with a claim involving a declined probate. It isn't as simple as a General District Court case, because it needs to start with the opening of a probate and might lead to a contested and hostile petition for probate by you in spite of not being... Read more »

4 Answers | Asked in Foreclosure and Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: Great grandmother's property going into lien foreclosure in 2 wks. If I pay taxes, can I sell the property.

Great grandmother died in 1985. Left property as heir property. My mother held power of attorney. My great-uncle attempted to sell the property. He couldn't b/c the heirs never paid my great-grandmother's attorney for the work he did. As such, the deed was never transferred to the heirs. Taxes are... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 22, 2019

There are steps between the taxes being due and a foreclosure sale, but those steps vary by jurisdiction. The short answer is that paying the taxes does not buy the title for you. Unless the actual title owners agree, it buys you nothing but a dubious claim for contribution, and that is limited if... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: Is it worth pursuing a buyer who defaulted on a residential sale 2 days before closing after removing all contingencies?

Our buyer unexpectedly presented us with a unilateral termination as we were preparing to close.

- we met all deadlines including original closing date

- we agreed to and completed over $5k in repairs (our agent coordinated with the contractor to pay out of proceeds)

- the... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 21, 2019

You should get a contract review to determine the damages available under your contract. In some, the damages are limited to the earnest money deposit and moat of that goes to the realtor. In others, you can force performance or collect substantial damages. The contracts are not all the same, and... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: Hello. We terminated our contract with previous realtor. Within the extension time of 180 days for that contract...

...we have an offer with a second realtor. Will they share the 5% commission?

Richard Sternberg answered on May 18, 2019

You need to review the listing agreement. The current standard MAR contract included a clause that eliminated the commission claim of the prior realtor once a replacement realtor was signed as agent. Another form I recall seeing only applied that after the term of the original listing contract... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on

Q: Are seller financing and lease option agreement contracts are legal in the state of Virginia?

Can a real estate investor offer these contracts to the seller and the buyer just as long as the contracts are legal and the investors has a title company or attorney to look over the contracts to approve them.

Richard Sternberg answered on May 16, 2019

Lawyers don’t “approve” contracts. They review and advise their clients on the legalities of their dealings. After the advice, the contracting parties remain responsible for their choices, though they might have a claim against the lawyer if his advice was malpractice. If what you are doing... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Probate for Virginia on

Q: Probate law for Virginia. Do I need to hire an attorney to collect what I was owed by the estate?

A close friend and business associate recently past away and his brother is the executor of the estate. I have attempted to contact his brother many times over the past few months. At first he was communicative, but now he will not respond to email or telephone calls. Our business interests were... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

You need to file and pursue a claim timely or it is lost forever. The deadlines are strictly enforced. The effect is complete. I know if no basis for you to collect attorneys fees for pursuing your claim. You need to consult with counsel immediately.

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3 Answers | Asked in Contracts and Real Estate Law for Virginia on

Q: Our condo was listed for 325k, we were offered 332k by a military couple. We took their offer.

Our agent assured us the VA appraisal would surely cover difference. VA app. 325k. Is the buyer legally obligated to pay what they offered?

Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

You need to read the contract, but I believe the VA rider is conditioned on the VA appraisal.

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3 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: My house shares a chimney&both sides need to be fixed to correct water leak the other house is rental & no contact info

I have no correct contact info for the rental property company / owner. The chimney company says I can just get my side fixed but that will NOT solve the problem of the water leaking and they won't be able to guarantee the work just the materials. What is my recourse? If I pay to have the whole... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 7, 2019

It seems weird to me that you can't track down the owner of the other property to resolve this. The name of the record owner is a matter of public record both at the Recorder of Deeds and, less accurately, at the State Department of Assessments and Taxation. Then, running a search on the Internet... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on

Q: Hi, if I want to evict my month to month tenant who won’t leave but pays, do I have to keep making repairs before court

My tenant is month to month. Our original lease ended 30 months ago. While the lease mentioned 60 days notice, now that it’s month to month, I assume I only need to give 30 days. He wants me to repair the broken windows and back door. I want to wait until he’s gone. Do I need to fix them before... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 6, 2019

You need to consult with a local lawyer, because county and city codes matter in landlord-tenant. Then, the lawyer needs to read the lease with particular attention to the Holding Over and Notice clauses. In Virginia, the lease will be read fairly strictly as written unless it violates local... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: my brother and I took the part of my dads half of my grandmother property my brother recently passed away.

my question is how can I make my aunt and uncles buy me out of the house or sell the house? My aunt lives there now and has lived there for years but when we received the house last year she never paid any taxes or water bill on it so that took money we were supposed to receive from my grandmothers... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 6, 2019

Get a lawyer. File a Petition for Sale in Lieu of Partition. Generally, the court will allow the fees as well as contribution for utilities to be reimbursed to you from the proceeds of the sale. As long as your title to the property is clear and the property cannot be partitioned, there are no real... Read more »

3 Answers | Asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law, Arbitration / Mediation Law and Civil Litigation for Virginia on

Q: would i be responsible for closing cost if my ex is refinancing to get my name removed. not lived there for over a year

We bought a home together a year ago, and I moved out after splitting 4 months after we purchased. I signed a written agreement that was notarized I wasn't responsible for mortgage / bills after i parted ways. She is keeping the house and I want to clear my name from the deed/Note. Is she liable to... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on May 5, 2019

Where you have been living is very likely to be irrelevant. What the agreement says is likely relevant. Set up a consult with a lawyer to review it and the facts.

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for District of Columbia on

Q: I am the spouse of a deceased heir of an estate that died after the decedent. Am I entitled to receive any inheritance?

Richard Sternberg answered on May 3, 2019

You need to speak with a lawyer to fill in the family tree and discuss any Will or trust that might exist. Just for the first questions:

Is there a Will, and is your or you late husbands name in it?

Did "the decedent" -- the first person to die -- we'll call him or her A -- have a...
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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: I was told that my offer on a home was accepted by the seller only to have the listing agent turn around 2 hrs later

and say they changed their mind and are going with another offer. Is that legal?

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 30, 2019

Oral responses are unbinding because they violate the statute of frauds which requires a writing to support contracts regarding real property. What constitutes a writing varies by state, and you might be well served to get a consult with a lawyer if there are any writings, including emails or... Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Criminal Law and Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: I just became aware that my Siblings forged my name on a deed of a in 2007. I am unsure re SOL.

I had been told house was being rented. We owned the property jointly.

House in MD; I live in AZ

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 28, 2019

While the statute of limitations on real estate is 20 years, the limitations for fraud is three years. That limitations period starts with when the harm should have been or was discovered. Sitting in your rights after three years is just foolish. You should consult a Maryland lawyer to review the... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Maryland on

Q: In Maryland, can a trust contain the power/authority to hold $150,000 from the beneficiaries indefinitely?

150,000 is to provide funding to place flowers on three gravesites two times each year.

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 27, 2019

You probably ought to pay someone to review the actual trust, because some trust purposes can be undercut by the beneficiaries due to changes circumstances, but there is nothing fundamentally problematic with a trust holding property perpetually. A grant of property must resolve title within 21... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia on

Q: My neighbor has a fence separating our lawns. He comes over to our side of his fence and mows 10 feet into our lawn.

Can he claim adverse possesion on my property? He says he mows it so grass doesnt get on his fence. But i dont trust him i was renting the house for 4 years and i just bought the house from my land lord in February 2019

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 22, 2019

Adverse possession can be remembered reasonably accurately with the acronym POACH. To achieve adverse possession, the bar against landowners pleading to protect their property, the adverse possessor must POSSESS OPENLY ADVERSELY CONTINUOUSLY and HOSTILELY for the requisite number of years. I see... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: What is the order of precedence between Maryland Code, County Ordinances (Code), and Corporation (HOA) By-Laws?

I am trying to determine what takes precedence so that I can properly run our HOA with respect to Quorum and % of HOA members required for meetings -- the MD State Code has one requirement, our County Ordinance (Calvert County) has another one that is different, and our HOA Bylaws has another spin... Read more »

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 20, 2019

The order of precedence is State Code, County Code, and then private contracts like HOA Agreements even if they are recorded with the land. But, if there is an interpretation in which all applicable law and private contracts can be honored, that’s the correct interpretation. For example, if the... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: Myself and my brother both inherited our mothers home in 2012. I offered a buyout amount. He refused.

The offer is minus half of the mortgage, property taxes and maintenance repairs. What exactly is he financial responsibility for as half owner of the house?

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 11, 2019

I don't exactly understand your question, but the bottom line is that the house should be sold and the profits divided if you cannot work it out, and you can force that result with a Petition for Sale in Lieu of Partition. The fair apportionment is the same that a court would use. You pay off all... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: Is it a requirement for a buyer to hire a real estate broker in order to buy a real estate property in Maryland?

I was told that Maryland by law requires you to hire an agent for the acquisition of real estate. I find that hard to believe.

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 9, 2019

I don't know who told you that, but it is incorrect. Even though selling brokers are usually paid by splitting the commissions earned by selling brokers, buyers can often negotiate a lower price if they avoid using a broker, especially in buyer's markets. I do think it is wise to have some... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Real Estate Law for Maryland on

Q: If I sell my Maryland house with a life estate deed WITH power before I die, is the remainderman entitled to anything?

Richard Sternberg answered on Apr 6, 2019

You need a title abstract and a bit of research. First, you need to know that the house actually purports to be held in a life estate with an unlimited general power of sale. Then, if that is how it is held, I'd want to review whether the Doctrine of Merger combines those two titles into a fee... Read more »

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